Tuesday 17 July 2018

Building your own Cortana Music Player

Ever since Amazon killed the cloud Music Storage subscription, I've been annoyed. I uploaded my 2000+ CD collection to the cloud to preserve it and allow me to access it from anywhere.

I've been looking for an alternative, but didn't find anything as cost effective as Amazon's dead program ($25 for the year? a steal). Google had a Google Music Play plan that included YouTube Red for $15/mo. But that cost made me uncomfortable (that, and being on a monthly plan.)

But I believe I found a solution!  OneDrive... you get 1TB of storage with an Office 365 account for $99/yr. That is value, and you get Office too.

But here is what I find more exciting.

I got my Invoke today and had to (like really) see if I could build my own music player... Out of the box Cortana will only let you hook up to streaming services. But you can't play music from your PC or OneDrive (unless you BlueTooth to the device).

How hard can it be to build a skill to play your music from OneDrive? As it turns out - not hard at all.

Amazon Music continually griefed me because it never kept my songs together in their albums when imported (as were imported via iTunes). But when I synced my library to OneDrive - the directory structure is intact. And as it happens, the OneDrive REST API will let you retrieve your directories and walk the files... and you can use your MSA authentication to keep it all personal or share those files...

So, how hard is it to get Cortana and botframework to play an MP3 you have stored on OneDrive?  This easy.

var audioCard = new builder.AudioCard(session)
            { url : 'https://onedrive.live.com/download?cid=00E75C36F57E8A5B&resid=E75C36F57E8A5B%216254&authkey=AEAEHi1WUjheHj4' }]);  
var msg = new builder.Message(session)
 .text('Now playing Nephatiti by 808 State)
 .speak('<speak version="1.0" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2001/10/synthesis" xml:lang="en-US">Playing Nephatiti by <say-as interpret-as="number_digit">808</say-as> State.</speak>');

Edit: It is extremely important to end the conversation after sending an audio card on Windows because if Cortana has a dialog going, regardless of any input hint, the volume will be set low. Ending the conversation keeps the volume at 100% at the expense of disconnecting Cortana from the bot.  Also, Cortana will ignore every field in the audio card (like title).

What will be even more fun will be using the language recognition services to solve another Alexa pet peeve... search for my classic and latin music titles!

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